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You truly are your own harshest critic, but you don’t have to be. You can unlearn your self-hate or self-criticism and learn how to love yourself. You spend your whole life in your brain and body – you should make it a nice place. Here are some ways that I improve my self-love and heal my relationship with myself. 

Validate your own feelings 

What you are feeling is valid, no matter how it came about or how you think you should feel. It is okay to feel how you feel; there is nothing wrong with you. You are learning and growing and part of that is addressing how you feel and why. It can teach you about yourself. By validating your feelings and not demeaning yourself, you can accept your feelings and show yourself care. 

Put yourself first 

You need to make yourself your first priority. You are living the rest of your life with yourself. So, you need to treat yourself well and make it a good relationship. Life is already too stressful without you making it harder on yourself. If you need to do something, do it. You shouldn’t base your actions based off of anyone’s approval but your own. 

Make time to do what you like

Set aside time to do things that you enjoy. Start to grow your hobbies and relax. You do not need to be good at something to enjoy it. Sing at the top of your lungs, even if you can’t hit the notes. It is completely okay because you are only doing it for your own enjoyment. When you work on hobbies that enrich your happiness, you will feel better and be able to do them because you like them, and not because you want to look good. By eliminating the constant need to be good, you relieve yourself of that particular stress.

Be patient with yourself 

Things take time. If you are trying to stop a habit or get something done, let yourself take the time. You don’t need to rush anything. You are only one person and you don’t need to make things harder for yourself by setting hard expectations. Be realistic and kind to yourself.

Let yourself mess up 

As Hannah Montana said, “Nobody is perfect you, you live and you learn it.” If you don’t mess up, you will never learn. Also, you never know that your messing up may open a brand new door that you didn’t know about or didn’t think about. Nothing in this world has to be perfect, and neither do you. Don’t get mad at yourself if you mess something up; you can only do and know so much.

Listen to your body 

Your body communicates with you in ways that aren’t just plain thoughts. Listen to what your body has to say. If you are craving something, there is probably a reason for it. You don’t have to give into the craving, but try to find out why and what your body is trying to tell you. If you listen to your body, it will treat you right and you can have a better relationship with it.

Get plenty of rest 

Rest doesn’t always mean sleep. You need to give your mind a rest and your body a rest. Take a rest by doing something you enjoy or something you find relaxing. You can give your mind a rest by meditating, going to a new place, reading, listening to music, painting, cooking, baking or anything else! You can give your body a rest by going on a nice walk, wearing non-irritating clothes, drinking lots of water, getting a massage, taking a bath, doing yoga and so much more. Whatever you do, just make sure you are trying to relax your mind and your body.

Give yourself credit 

You have done a lot and come a long way from where you started. Give yourself credit for what you have done. Give yourself the affection and praise you would give others — you deserve it. Did you meet a goal? Did you accomplish a task? No matter how small or large it is, you did it! You deserve credit for it.

Set boundaries 

You can set these boundaries for yourself and for others. You can make a boundary for yourself that you’ll stop judging your appearance, for example. By doing this, you are making it clear to yourself that you don’t like that behavior. It can make it easier to stop and is a strong statement. By setting boundaries with others, like setting alone time for yourself, allows you to have some control. It also communicates to the other person what your expectations are. Setting this boundary is a clear line in the sand that they shouldn’t cross.

Add more self-care

There are a lot of misconceptions about what self-care truly is. Self-care can look different for everyone. While getting yourself a drink and working out can be someone’s self-care, there should be a purpose behind it. Self-care should make you feel better and improve your mental state. When you add more self-care, focus on things that bring you peace or will make things easier for you in the future. Some examples of this kind of self-care are:

  • Putting dishes in the dishwasher instead of the sink.
  • Drinking more water because you have been dehydrated.
  • Painting your nails because it makes you happy.
  • Playing with your pet because it calms your nerves.
  • Baking because it gives you a sense of control.
  • Taking a bath to relax your muscles.
  • Reading to give yourself something else to focus on.
  • Making a reasonable budget to improve your spending habits.

Overall, this isn’t everything you can do to improve your self-love, and they might not all be effective for you. Each person is different and each person’s journey is different. You should not be comparing anyone else to yourself. Your worth starts with your own self-worth and self-care. You are a person; be kind to that person.

(she/her) Madison Thompson is a junior at The University of Missouri- Columbia and has direct admission into the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism School. She is an older sister and loves to read and write. In addition to Journalism, Madison loves creative writing. Madison has a self-published poetry book titled "The Journey". Her Poem Supermarket was a finalist in the 2019 KET writing contest.
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